What is an oral implant? And how does it work?

Dental implants Herefordshire are a fairly new addition to restorative dentistry. They are considered the best option for replacing lost teeth as they go one step further than false teeth or dentures. The use of a titanium insert as an artificial root allows the dental prosthetic to be permanently fixed and immobilised in the patient’s mouth, making it a more permanent solution.

Oral implants used to be considered a treatment only carried out by oral surgeons. This was because of the use of full anaesthesia and an operating theatre. But newer techniques have enabled implants to be carried out under local anaesthetic or twilight sedation, allowing implanting to become part of the repertoire of many local dental clinics. This has led to additional training being taken on by standard dentists to give them the necessary proficiency to successfully carry out the procedure.

Implantation is carried out in two phases. During the first one, the gum is opened and an implant is placed into the jawbone. This is done either using a vacant socket or a new orifice needs to be drilled into the jawbone to place the insert. The gum is stitched closed, protecting and holding the implant in place over a period of 4-8 months. This implant becomes fixed through a process known as osseointegration, as new bone grows around the titanium and fuses it into the jaw. During this period the patient can eat and behave normally.

After full osseointegration, the gum is opened and the implant is loaded with its prosthetic. This could be an individual tooth or it could be part of a denture that is being anchored with multiple implants.

dental patient

Oral implants are considered extremely safe. There is a minor risk of infection that is mitigated with good surgical technique and if necessary antibiotics. Oral implants do not have a guaranteed success rate and it is possible that the fusing process could fail and after 8 months, such implants would have to be extracted. Again, this can be mitigated by only carrying out treatments on appropriate patients and making patients aware of necessary lifestyle choices when receiving implants.

The maintenance and aftercare of the implant is extremely similar to that of your original teeth. It is what has made implants extremely popular, as they truly are the most natural feeling dental prosthetic option. Once fully healed and fused, they require the same 6-monthly check-ups and twice daily brushing. You can use any mouthwash that you did before, floss and eat the same range of foods as anybody with a full set of natural healthy teeth can. The polymer and nanomaterials used to fabricate artificial teeth stains slower than natural enamel. This can lead to them deviating from the shade of the rest of your teeth over time, but most patients address this issue with occasional dental whitening or scale and polishing.

Patients who have active gum disease or untreated cavities require standard dental care before any restorative procedure can be carried out. Not doing so significantly increases the chance of unsuccessful implantation. Also the bone density of the jaw needs to be assessed, as a low bone density or inefficient volume of bone is the largest factor determining the success of oral implants.

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